|Senate Taking Up Committee Bill|
Senate floor action is scheduled to begin the week of Nov. 5 on the farm bill reported out by the Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee chaired by Tom Harkin (D-IA).
The NCC sent a letter to all Senate Cotton Belt Members urging support of the committee package and rejection of damaging amendments, especially Grassley-Dorgan payment limits.
The committee’s bill contains many cotton specific provisions sought by the NCC and continues the effective safety net initiated in the ’02 farm bill. The bill introduces reform in tighter payment limits and a lower Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) means test is proposed. It also proposes a new optional “Average Crop Revenue” (ACR) program in ’10 as a substitute for the current three-legged commodity support program of direct, counter-cyclical and non-recourse marketing loan components. Summary information on the commodity provisions and payment limit components is available from the “07 Farm Bill” icon on the NCC’s home page, www.cotton.org.
A large number of amendments are under consideration by various members dealing with the basic structure of the commodity title, payment limits, AGI means testing, crop insurance reform, conservation, nutrition, livestock and food safety.
The NCC is working with other commodity and farm organizations to preserve the committee’s farm bill.The NCC issued an “Action Alert” encouraging cotton industry member contacts with Cotton Belt Senators supporting the committee’s farm legislation and opposing the Grassley-Dorgan payment limit amendment. All NCC members still are urged to contact their Senators and express support for the committee’s legislation and opposition to damaging amendments. Senator contact information also is available from the NCC’s home page “07 Farm Bill” icon (see above).
|CSP Payment Notification Urged|
Farmers participating in the Conservation Security Program (CSP) are being asked to notify their local Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) offices if they wish to receive CSP payments in ’07 or ’08. The request comes as USDA officials announced they are preparing to pay out $257 million for all 19,393 CSP contracts with eligible landowners and producers.
“USDA is pleased to recognize good stewardship practices and offer incentives to increase conserving uses through the Conservation Security Program, and we have proposed to do more, if Congress agrees,” said acting Agriculture Secretary Chuck Conner.
The payments are for current contracts in all 280 CSP watersheds. CSP contract holders will receive payment in full for the current FY08 contract obligations and will be given the option of receiving their payment in calendar year ’07 or ’08.
Currently, the CSP is offered on a rotating watershed basis, as funds are available. Sen. Harkin (D-IA), the program’s author, had intended it to be a national program available to all farmers who perform conservation practices on their land. Harkin, chairman of the Senate agriculture committee, included funding in the farm bill just passed by the committee that would bring the total enrollment in the Conservation Stewardship Program (as it would be renamed) to 80 million acres over the next five years.
The NRSC anticipates the next CSP signup to take place in early ’08 in the 51 eligible watersheds announced in Sept. ’06. These watersheds include more than 64,500 potentially eligible farms and ranches and nearly 24 million acres of cropland and grazing land throughout the United States, the Pacific Islands and the Caribbean Area.
CSP is a voluntary program established as part of the ’02 farm bill to support ongoing conservation stewardship on private agricultural working lands and enhance the condition of the nation’s natural resources. For more information about CSP, including payment information for existing contracts, eligible ’07 watersheds, and program eligibility requirements, go to http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/csp or visit the nearest USDA Service Center.
|Schafer Nominated for Top USDA Post|
The Bush Administration nominated former North Dakota Governor Ed Schafer to replace Mike Johanns as Secretary of Agriculture.
Schafer said he's "humbled" by the nomination and added he'll call on his ag roots in North Dakota to help guide his work.
"Growing up in that arena and focusing now on USDA, I realize that the mission of this agency goes far beyond the services delivered to the preservation of a way of life that I believe is the foundation of this country," Schafer said.
Sens. Conrad (D-ND) and Chambliss (R-GA) issued statements of support.
"I just congratulated Governor Schafer and said I welcomed his nomination as a fellow North Dakotan,” Sen. Conrad said. “I hope he will support this farm bill, which is good for our state and the nation. I look forward to speaking with him about his views on the Food and Energy Security Act currently under consideration.” Sen. Chambliss noted that Schafer “has a strong background in public service, which will certainly be a valuable asset in his new role as Secretary. I look forward to getting to know Governor Schafer during the confirmation process and will work hard to fill this critical position for U.S. agriculture as soon as possible."Sen. Harkin (D-IA), chair of the Senate agriculture committee, said he's equally pleased with the Schafer appointment, and added high marks for Conner's performance in the interim period. Schafer earned a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from the U. of North Dakota and an MBA from the U. of Denver. He served as governor of North Dakota from ’92-00. He launched a successful pilot project to revive rural communities by using technology to deliver education, healthcare and economic development. The Centers of Excellence in Rural America project was jointly run by North Dakota and Wyoming to help create a network of small rural towns deploying affordable, high-speed telecommunications services.
|Sales, Shipments Steady|
Net export sales for the week ending Oct. 25 were 222,800 bales (480-lb). This brings total ’07-08 sales to slightly more than 6.2 million bales. Total sales at the same point in the ’06-07 marketing year were approximately 4.2 million bales. Total new crop (’08-09) sales are 162,100 bales (480-lb.).
Shipments for the week were 189,500 bales, bringing total exports to date to 3.4 million bales, compared with the 1.6 million bales at the comparable point in the ’06-07 marketing year.
|PBW Panel Plans ‘08 Eradication Goals|
The NCC’s Pink Bollworm Action Committee, chaired by Arizona producer Dennis Palmer, met in Maricopa, AZ, to review ’07 program results and discuss plans for ’08.
Programs in Phase I in Trans Pecos/El Paso; south and central New Mexico; and Chihuahua, Mexico; all reported excellent progress in pink bollworm eradication. Phase II, initiated in ’06 in east and central Arizona, also reported an excellent first year. Expansion into western Arizona and adjacent areas of California occurred in ’07.
With ’08 funding uncertain at this point, the committee adopted budget and sterile moth distribution plans dependent on available resources. Several representatives from Mexico were present at the meeting to discuss concurrent eradication efforts and progress in Mexico. Both US and Mexican leadership agreed on the importance of concurrent eradication efforts and open communication and cooperation for the success of pink bollworm eradication.
The committee discussed the benefits to the program being realized from a 24c Special Local Need Registration for Bt cotton in Arizona and California. The 24c allows planting of 100% Bt cotton in eradication zones, with the release of sterile moths serving as the refuge.
An EPA Scientific Advisory Panel reviewed the program’s plans and concluded they were well documented and scientifically valid methods of resistance management for pink bollworm in Bt cotton.
|CPSC Reauthorization Legislation|
The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation reported legislation (S. 2045; CPSC reauthorization) including sweeping reforms to the Consumer Product Safety Act (CPSA) that would give the agency more money and authority.
CPSA has not been reauthorized or amended since ’90.
The bill was introduced by Sen. Pryor (D-AR). While the legislation did not contain the Section 25 provision requiring a mandatory furniture flammability standard, it would essentially remove federal preemption of flammability and other regulations.
In addition, the bill authorizes funding levels for seven years starting at $80 million in ’09 and increasing at a rate of 10% per year through ’15; increases criminal penalties and civil fines; allows state attorneys general to bring civil actions on behalf of its residents to enforce product safety laws and obtain damages and restitution; provides whistleblower protections for manufacturers' and importers' employees to shed light on any problems along the supply chain; and streamlines the product safety rulemaking process (removing the requirement for advanced notice of proposed rulemaking).
The House unveiled similar legislation on Nov. 1. Both bills restore the commission to its full panel of five commissioners at the conclusion of FY10.The White House informed the Senate committee that it was opposed to S. 2045, specifically because of provisions providing incentives to whistleblowers and allowing state attorneys general to bring civil actions for violations of safety standards.
|FSA County Elections Begin|
Acting Agriculture Secretary Chuck Connerannounced that the ’07 Farm Service Agency (FSA) county committee elections start on Nov. 2. The deadline for eligible voters to return ballots to their local FSA offices is Dec. 3, and ballots returned by mail must be postmarked no later than that date. Eligible voters who do not receive ballots in the coming week can obtain ballots at their local FSA office.
Committee members apply their knowledge and judgment to make decisions on disaster and conservation payments, establishment of allotments and yields, producer appeals, employing FSA county executive directors, and other local issues. FSA committees operate within official regulations designed to carry out federal laws.
To be an eligible voter, farmers and ranchers must participate or cooperate in FSA programs. A person who is not of legal voting age, but supervises and conducts the farming operations of an entire farm, can also vote. Agricultural producers in each county submitted candidate names during the nomination period held last summer.
Newly elected committee members and alternates take office on Jan. 1, ’08.Close to 8,000 FSA county committee members meet monthly at more than 2,300 FSA offices nationwide. Each committee consists of three to five members who serve three-year terms. Approximately one-third of county committee seats are up for election annually. For more information, call Kerry Humphrey at 202-720-9733, or Keith Williams at 202-720-4623.
|Prices Effective Nov. 2-8, '07|